Phishing gang jailed after stealing £6.5 million, Sophos reports

June 28, 2005 Sophos Press Release

Computer users are being lured into visiting bogus banking websites
Computer users are being lured into visiting bogus banking websites.

Experts at Sophos have reminded internet users to protect themselves online, as two men who stole up to £6.5 million (US $11.8 million) as part of their involvement in a phishing gang were jailed for a total of ten years by a British court.

Douglas Havard, a 24-year-old American living in Leeds, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and launder money and was sentenced to six years in prison. Fellow phisher Lee Elwood, a 25-year-old Glaswegian, received a four year jail sentence for the same offences.

The court in Leeds heard how the two men ran a credit card cloning operation which used stolen financial information obtained through phishing scams. The bank accounts of victims were then looted, and their identities used to buy and sell goods online. The criminals, who were active on criminal underground websites such as Shadowcrew, were said to live a lavish lifestyle.

"It is essential that anyone who uses the internet should be properly defended against the increasing amount of criminal activity we are seeing online. Everyone should practise safe computing and protect themselves with up-to-date security software," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "These sentences send out a strong message that the authorities are not going to turn a blind eye to phishers and identity fraudsters."

According to a spokeswoman for the National Hi Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), the total amount of money obtained during the crime spree could have reached £6.5 million. The NHTCU is working closely with law enforcement agencies in other countries to try and track down others overseas involved in the crime spree, as it is believed much of the stolen money was sent to hackers in Eastern Europe.

Havard is reported to be facing additional counterfeiting and armed robbery charges in Texas.